Stepping out of my comfort zone

Stepping out of my comfort zone

By Heather Brown

Summer is flying by. My time is full of work during the day and family life in the evening. I find myself busy with volunteering and spending time with family and friends.

Lately I have been encouraging myself to find ways to step (a bit) out of my comfort zone. While this can be exciting and amazing, it isn’t something that comes naturally to me. But I think that it is something that I need to do, as a way for me to grow.

A few weeks ago, my friends asked me if I would like to join their team for Foam Fest 2022 in Ottawa. I had never really heard of the event before. I have never been inclined to do races or big physical activities. I didn’t fully know what was involved. I am not really sure what drew me to say yes to the invitation, but I agreed to participate. My 11-year-old daughter also decided to join the team. We agreed to complete it by walking. Thank goodness, there was no way that I would be near ready to run the course. 

Leading up to the event, I learned more about what it entailed. For as long as I can remember, I strongly dislike getting dirty. As I learned more about Foam Fest, I realized how challenging this would be for me — physically and mentally. I was going to have to get dirty in order to complete the race. EEEK! Could I actually do this? But I knew that I couldn’t let my team down, I had made a commitment and was determined that I would see this through.

The day finally came and I was anxious. Keeping in mind I am not the most active person, my goal was to finish the 5k walk and try each obstacle.

Doing a 5 km walk on a hot day is a huge activity for me, let alone throwing in some challenging obstacles, too. There was running, climbing, jumping, sliding, heights, foam, water, and mud. SO MUCH MUD. The idea of getting muddy, even in the slightest, had me pretty worried! How the heck was I going to build up the nerve to complete this obstacle? Well, there were multiple obstacles that involved mud, of course! I cringed as I worked my way through each one. But, with encouragement, I fumbled my way through to the other side and completed the obstacles, and a huge factor was my amazing teammates!

One of the bigger obstacles involved climbing the rope net up to the top and then climbing down the other side. I tried to move up the obstacle quickly so that I could encourage my daughter and give her reassurance that she could do this. Once she was down safely, I found myself suddenly doubting myself, not confident that I could finish the obstacle. I let my anxiety and fear start to get the best of me. Luckily, my friends and daughter were awesome. They were there every step of the way, encouraging me to embrace the challenge and step out of my comfort zone. They helped me focus, to put the fear aside and think through what I needed to do to overcome the obstacle. They did the obstacle twice to give me support. They were patient with me through it all.

As we finished the walk, I was grateful for my team and daughter. I was grateful for their encouragement, patience, and the moments of laughter we had throughout the day. I am glad that I made this commitment and I gave it my all. It wasn’t easy, but I think that it was something I needed to do as I work to define myself post-cancer. But wow, was I exhausted and filthy from it too!

After the event, I started to think what other adventures may spark my interest that I would have automatically avoided before. I used to think that YACC’s Retreat Yourself Adventure would not be a good option for me, that I couldn’t do this type of activity, but maybe that activity is something that I could consider doing in the future.

While I am still not the most outdoorsy, adventurous person and I bet I will still choose to avoid getting muddy, I would like to think that I am becoming a bit more adventurous than I have been pre-cancer. This experience has reminded me of the personal growth that I have had come out of my cancer experience and I am so grateful for it!

Here are photos of our event (shared with the permission of my teammates).

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